Everton v Stoke preview
Potters hope to avoid coming unstuck at Toffees
Last Updated: March 13, 2009 10:35am
Moyes: Pushing for Europe
Everton will be looking to cement their top-six standing when they play host to Stoke on Saturday.
The Toffees appear to be well on course to secure European football for next season, with their final position all which remains to be resolved.
They currently sit four points adrift of fifth-placed Arsenal, while they will not have given up hope of making significant inroads into the seven-point cushion which separates them from Aston Villa, and a UEFA Champions League place.
With the battle at the top hotting up, David Moyes' side will be optimistic about adding three vital points to their tally this weekend.
They have lost just once in their last 11 top-flight fixtures on home soil and have kept five clean sheets in their last six Goodison Park outings.
They are also unbeaten in eight against the Potters, a run which includes a 3-2 victory at the Britannia Stadium in September.
Stoke, therefore, enter the game as underdogs as they look to secure priceless points in their battle against the drop.
Tony Pulis' men sit just a point above the relegation zone with 10 games remaining.
A three-match unbeaten run has helped their cause, but they do have the worst away record in the Premier League - picking up just four points from a possible 42.
The Potters have also managed just two clean sheets on their travels this term, with two or more goals conceded in each of the other 12 fixtures.
They can, however, boast a striker in James Beattie who is in red-hot form and he will be desperate to put one over on his former employers.
While Everton will be in positive mood heading into the contest, the Goodison Park treatment room continues to be well-stocked.
Tony Hibbert will miss out this weekend with a thigh problem, while James Vaughan continues to struggle with a knee complaint.
Victor Anichebe, Mikel Arteta (both knee) and Yakubu Aiyegbeni (calf) have been ruled out for the remainder of the season, while Nuno Valente is still carrying a knee injury of his own.
In contrast, Stoke will enter the weekend encounter with a clean bill of health.
Pulis has no fresh injury or suspension concerns to contend with as his side make the trip to Merseyside.
The only decision for the Potters boss to make will be whether to return Ricardo Fuller to his starting XI after the Jamaica international stepped off the bench to grab a vital goal in last week's 2-0 win over Bolton.
Possible starting XIs
Everton: Howard, Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Baines, Pienaar, Rodwell, Fellaini, Osman, Cahill, Saha.
Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Lawrence, Whelan, Diao, Delap, Beattie, Fuller.
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